Osan runs past Taegu into Class A title game
Smashmouth offense coupled with key defensive plays when needed most boosted the Osan American Cougars into the Far East High School Class A championship game.
Will Rapoza scored twice on short runs, Shawn Shoults added a TD on a quarterback sneak and the Cougars intercepted three Taegu American passes deep in Osan territory in a 22-6 victory over the Warriors at Osan Air Base on Saturday.
Osan (2-2) will host the Class A title game next Saturday against Robert D. Edgren of Japan (2-6).
The Cougars won each of their two games with Taegu (0-4). Taegu needed to beat Osan by at least five points to earn the Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Korea Football League’s title-game berth.
“This was probably one of our greatest victories yet,” Cougars coach Tony Alvarado said. “We came together and we executed. … Now, we get to play somebody we’ve never seen for a Far East championship.”
Rapoza, who ran 22 times for 101 yards, got the lion’s share of carries. Alvarado decided to keep it simple Saturday, attacking Taegu’s interior with what he called “grind-it-out running” — a double tight-end set and a full-house backfield.
“Six yards here, eight yards there,” Alvarado said. “Just move the ball. Drive the ball. Nothing fancy. Just straight-up smashmouth football.”
The Warriors, battered the week before in a 34-0 loss to Seoul American, and missing a handful of key starters, had no answer for the ground-pounding Cougars, coach George Speer said.
“Osan played a good game,” said Speer, whose Warriors finished 0-4. “They ran some new stuff at us, a good, patient inside running game. We had a bunch of kids hurt against Seoul and we couldn’t shake it off.”
Shoults got the Cougars on the board first with a 1-yard sneak in the first quarter to make it 8-0. It stayed that way through the first half. Rapoza made the mountain higher by bulling across from 8 yards out to put the Cougars up 15-0.
Taegu finally got on the board thanks to a bit of trickery. On a fourth down, the Warriors lined up as if to punt. But instead, Kory Grammer hit streaking Daniel Pressley with a 65-yard scoring pass to cut the gap to 15-6 with 10:40 remaining.
Rapoza’s 2-yard run pushed the margin back to 22-6. Osan’s defense ensured the victory as Matt Stokes intercepted two Warriors passes and Tae Benson one, each deep in Osan territory.
“Those were big momentum-breakers,” Alvarado said.
Now the Cougars turn their attention to Edgren, which has a former Alvarado protégé in tow: junior fullback David Leh, who transferred to Misawa Air Base this summer.
“That will be fun, to face him,” Alvarado said.
To battle for a Far East title banner will be “exciting for our kids and for our school,” he said. “We’re pumped. We can’t wait.”
As for the Warriors, many of the freshmen and sophomores who composed much of their roster will return next year for what Speer said he hoped would be a much more successful season.
“Our whole offensive line is back as are a couple of others,” he said. “That’s a plus. We had a lot of young players this season. It takes an offensive line time to jell. Four games just isn’t enough.”